Enhancing IoT and Wearables with the SensorTile Development Kit

4 months ago by Tyler Charboneau

On May 7th, STMicroelectronics—Europe’s largest semiconductor manufacturer—announced its newest contribution to the IoT realm. Dubbed the SensorTile.box, a device that introduces users to wearable sensing and cloud-based data transmission.

The platform is designed for younger users, developers, and everyone in between. With its integrated array of sensors and components, the SensorTile.box can collect an impressive quantity of actionable information.

 

How is the SensorTile.box Powered?

The SensorTile.box is remarkably simple to operate thanks to its clearly-labeled group of buttons. It’s comprised of multiple hardware components that power specialised functions. These work either independently or in tandem:

 

●      High-accuracy temperature sensor

●      Low-power, 6-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) with machine learning core (MLC)

●      Two 3-axis accelerometers

●      Magnetometer

●      Pressure sensor and altimeter

●      Analogue signal microphone

●      Humidity sensor

 

These hardware components are contained within an IP54-rated plastic housing. Measuring 57mm x 38mm x 20mm, making this product fairly compact given its capabilities.

 

The SensorTile.box control panel and corresponding internals. Image courtesy of STMicroelectronics.

 

Any data collected by the device from its immediate environment is transmitted to one’s own smart device thanks to the inclusion of Bluetooth Low Energy. According to ST, users can also access “vibration monitoring, data recording, inclinometer/level-sensing, digital compass, and baby-monitoring applications.”

As this device is wearable, and therefore portable, efficiency is key. The SensorTile.box additionally features a built-in 8GB SD card and a 500mAh lithium battery, along with a microcontroller designed for miniscule power consumption and regulation of all sensory components.

 

Software Functions and Connectivity

ST included Bluetooth Low Energy for data-syncing purposes. Since the box’s display capabilities are limited, collected data is transferred to personal devices like smartphones and tablets. This allows users to visualise aggregated information more clearly.

Additionally, this data streaming happens in real time, so developers and engineers can observe changes as they occur. Environments aren’t static, and the true significance of sensory platforms lies with their ability to dynamically monitor their surroundings. This facilitates both commercial and consumer application development.

Undoubtedly, the sensory platform has impressive raw potential. Accordingly, what if we want to interpret commercial data to gain insights?

ST designed the SensorTile.box as a demonstration piece, one which lends credence to the IoT’s continued viability. STMicroelectronics is achieving that via their partnership with Microsoft’s Azure IoT Central. The tile box is Azure compatible, making it a natural conduit through which Microsoft can showcase its own technologies.

Azure IoT Centralis an enterprise software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform for connecting commercial devices and sharing crucial data. Azure excels at building scalable applications in short order, which is exactly what ST hopes to achieve with the SensorTile.box.

 

A visualisation of Azure’s cloud data solution. Image courtesy of Microsoft.

 

What Makes It a Powerful Tool

While ST wants IoT newcomers to feel immersed, software-and-engineering professionals will reap the greatest rewards. Users can operate the tile box in its simplest form by pressing button after button and observing results. However, the tile box’s true potential lies with its developer mode.

The SensorTile developer mode allows IoT engineers to granularly configure operations, permitting activation and deactivation of individual components. Using this system, developers can achieve the maximum amount of efficiency and performance out of their applications.

Direct hardware manipulation via software plays a key role in designing solid systems. When scaling for the enterprise, these improvements can mount extensively. Imagine harnessing the power of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of connected business devices. If those run effectively and seamlessly, the cost savings will be considerable.

Sound programming also relies on accuracy. The SensorTile.box allows developers to leverage data from multiple sensors simultaneously. During single-threaded development, engineers may need to rely on data from a single input and extrapolate. This is for better or worse.

Since multiple sensors can work together on a given task, this data can be combined. That results in greater cohesiveness and data sourcing-proven ways to paint fuller pictures. Reducing guesswork is always appreciated in a business environment. Furthermore, it saves development time and expense.

Development professionals will have an easy time utilising ST’s Open Development Environment (ODE). This ODE is comprised of a CubeMX configurator and code generator. It also includes standard debugging tools, alongside a programmer. Essentially, developers will have most every required tool at their disposals to begin coding and implementing quality-control procedures.

 

Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence

In the past, software and hardware were designed with a rigid installation qualification. Processors powered applications and software provided avenues for user input. However, these applications had a limited capability to analyse data and user trends.

Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) have made our applications smarter. The tile box’s integrated ML core and AI extensions allow developers to implement neural networks. These networks thrive on pattern recognition, unlocking activity insights and audio recognition in the SensorTile.box example. Engineers can design applications that learn and improve over time.

The enterprise depends on streamlining and automation wherever necessary, making this a perfect tool. Simplification of cloud-based applications frees up resources for other tasks. That’s one catalyst for agile growth, and we’re thrilled to see what the SensorTile.box can offer our ever-changing commercial landscape.

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